To download and/or print this Advent reflection prepared and adapted from various sources by www.maristlaitynz.org, please click HERE.
Welcome: We begin this Advent reflection with how Jesus Christ came to be born.
Read Matthew 1:19-24. Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, was a righteous man, and unwilling to expose her to shame, so he decided to divorce her quietly. He had made up his mind to do this when an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” … When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had told him to do and took Mary into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
Pope Francis called for a year of St Joseph (8th December 2020-2021) to commemorate 150 years since the church declared Joseph patron of the universal church. In Patris Corde Francis describes Joseph in seven different ways: a beloved father, a tender and loving father, an obedient father, an accepting father, a creatively courageous father, a working father, and a father “in the shadows”. Each of these aspects of Joseph offer a witness on how we as church are called to live as the family of God.
So this Advent let’s consider Joseph and Mary; apparently unremarkable young people who today would be seen to have few possessions, no home, healthcare, bank account, car, or job. They are irrelevant in society, but not to God. In their utter dependence they live for God alone and while we are given a few brief words from Mary, the Bible wraps Joseph in silence. Yet both see with watchful expectation, listen with hope and act with courage inviting us to step out anew on the path of discipleship this Advent.
Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, fill us with expectant hope and the courage to step out anew in your name.
Response: Come Lord Jesus, Come.
Joseph had made up his mind to be honourable about Mary and not humiliate her for the dishonour she was causing him. How difficult is it to act with compassion and honour when we feel hurt or dishonoured? Then comes the dream where Joseph hears, “Do not be afraid”, and he discerns his life mission to care for Mary and this holy child. Joseph receives the legal power to name him ‘Jesus’, the Saviour. Joseph was open to God changing his mind. Discerning God’s will, he risked his reputation and everything he had to spend the rest of his life serving Mary and Jesus as husband and father. He places God’s will and the invitation to rise above his self-interest first and invites us to live the same.
Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, fill us with your Spirit of discernment to do your will. (Response)
Current times seem dark and produce fear which can blind us to the possibilities of journeying with the Christ who saves. People are confused, disorientated, angry, disillusioned, shut-off from others and lacking hope. Joseph and Mary did not just dream and leave everything to God. In Nazareth they each discerned the path which God opened before them and courageously said “Yes” stepping out on their journey with life-long determination, trust in God, hope and compassion. They always remained open to God’s will.
Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, fill us with hope and open to do your will without fear or self-interest. (Response)
Joseph and Mary, invite us to not simply ‘see’ Jesus but to follow him, to let go of control and fear, and surrender to the adventure of living for God alone. Like our Marist founders, we are invited to respond to the Advent call to dream new dreams of hope and follow wherever the path from our safe Nazareth leads. Both Joseph and Mary guide us on life’s journey. Both were told not to be afraid. Both sought God and God’s will above all else.
Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, give us new dreams of hope and help us follow you as Joseph and Mary did, wherever the path from our Nazareth may lead.
Their bold ‘Yes’ probably came from a lifetime of little ‘Yeses’ to God and countless ‘No’s’ to all that is not of God, to the darkness of fear, shame, greed, despair, arrogance and power. They let their lives be disrupted, to faithfully live their ‘Yes’ everyday. Advent summons us to daily renew our own ‘Yes’ to God and our ‘No’ to the destructive forces within and around us.
Prayer: Come Lord Jesus, empower us to give our daily ‘yes’, and be bearers of Christ’s hope even to places where he is not welcomed or recognized.
Some personal questions to ponder on your Advent journey with Joseph and Mary:
Dare I let God disrupt my comfort and my plans? What makes me afraid? Who tells me not to be afraid? How do I move from fear into graced compassion and action? What is God’s dream and vision of me, of humanity? What do I need from God at this time?
Prayers of Intercession
Jesus, born in a stable, bring hope and compassion to people experiencing homelessness. Lord hear our prayer
Jesus, child of Mary and Joseph, bring hope and practical care to all families. Lord hear our prayer
Jesus, bearer of peace, bring hope and your peace to those suffering from conflict and war. Lord hear our prayer
Jesus, who fled to another country, bring hope and mercy to all refugees. Lord hear our prayer
Jesus, who was hungry in the desert, bring hope and aid to the poor and starving. Lord hear our prayer
Jesus, Saviour & healer, free the world from the pandemic and bring the hope of healing to those who suffer. Lord hear our prayer
Jesus, Son of God, Saviour, bring us hope this Advent and empower us by your Spirit to be as Joseph and Mary in our world today for the glory of God the father. God of journey and life, give us hope as we wait for your coming again. When we are tempted to be grateful to have found you while others are lost, send us out onto the road again in search of those who need you most. We pray that Mary and Joseph guide and pray for us this Advent and always.
All: Glory be to the Father, and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, as it was in the beginning, is now …
Conclude with an Advent hymn then connect and share together.
Advent and Christmas Blessings
from Marist Laity NZ